A root canal is a term used to define the cavity within the center of the tooth. The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the root canal. The nerve lies within the canal of the tooth. A tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected is in need of repair. Once this occurs, a root canal procedure is performed. During this treatment, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. If proper treatment is not sought, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form and spread to the bone around the tooth, making it unable to hold the tooth in place.
The primary function of the nerve after the tooth has emerged through the gums is completely sensory—to provide the sensation of hot and cold.